Any redesign takes a lot of effort and some serious self-reflection. Where to begin? Jayne Haugen Olson shares her best advice for someone ready for a change of (interior) scenery.
SHARE YOUR VISION
I started a Pinterest board for nearly every space in our home. It was my way of editing where I wanted to take each room. I could start to see patterns form and see how rooms would work together. Once the designers started viewing my boards, I would add and delete images. Even if the boards are just for your eyes, edit yourself. Delete the images that could cloud where you ultimately want to go with your project.
NAME YOUR HOUSE
I give credit for this to my interior designer friend, Lucy Penfield. We have always referred to our houses as numbers based on the address. Our first was 453. Followed by 436. Then came 800. But we christened this house Westwood. Not super creative, I know—it’s the name of our street—but our view from the top of the hill faces west and the sunsets, and it offers a nod to my love of the Hollywood Regency era of design.
ARTICULATE HOW YOU WANT TO LIVE
I wrote a single page on what kind of environment I envisioned for our home and family: How we live and want to live in our space. Then I went a step further, doing the same for each space, sharing them with each interior design team. The statements were not about colors or chairs, but how we planned to use each space as well as some wish list items. I knew the designers would have ideas on what we would need in order to use the spaces how we intended.
I often say: “Even editors need editors.” My problem with design is that I love so many styles, so many fabrics, so many wallpapers. I’m a frustrated interior designer at heart, but I know my limits. When it comes to making investments in our home—either permanent or when purchasing furniture—having the guidance and expert insight is invaluable. Professional interior designers have training and experience. They know the design rules on scale and proportion. They know all of “those things” a typical homeowner doesn’t take into consideration.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO SPEAK UP
Even though the designers participated in the Home Tour to “showcase” their work, they still interacted with our family just like they would with their other clients. Each space had varying levels of push-pull to get us to the end result, and we brought plenty of our own opinions to the table. Kimberly Herrick, who selected all of the finishes for the kitchen, must have shown us 20 counter stools and scores of fabric samples. Since the chairs are pieces we have purchased to keep post-tour, care was taken on both sides to get it “just right.”
CONSIDER VANTAGE POINTS
Having done years of photo shoots, I’m wired to see rooms as a series of vignettes. I consider what I’m going to see when I’m in my favorite spots: What makes me happy? What do I want to see when I’m sitting on my living room sofa? What am I looking at while in the family room? What greets me when I walk through the door of my home? It’s one of the reasons I asked for a large-scale pattern for the dining room drapes. I wanted to be able to have just a taste of that while seated in the living room—or in my peripheral vision while at the kitchen counter.
ACCOUNT FOR PETS
Magazines are filled with family-friendly homes. But we can’t forget how many of us live with pets. The design teams had to take into account our 70-pound goldendoodle, Guthrie, and his potentially carpet-shredding claws when considering carpets for our stairs. Designer John Lassila even found a great spot to incorporate Guthrie’s kennel in the laundry room.
MIX IN VINTAGE
The designers all were aware of my passion for patina, and worked to incorporate the vintage lighting we have amassed. The design team of Bonnie Birnbaum and Keri Olson, who created our outdoor spaces, found counter stools and a ceiling fixture at Architectural Antiques, while the patio set that sits adjacent to the pool was coincidentally discovered by both Keri and me on the same day (at separate times) at one of my favorite haunts, Hunt & Gather.
REPURPOSE WHAT YOU HAVE
We purchased many of the furniture pieces on display for the tour, because we had needs for this new home—including the sunroom and library. We had also sold our previous dining room set and had lived without one for nearly a year. Our former kitchen table, once owned by designer Robb Whittlef, now lives in the sunroom—the etchings on the marble top are from a past Easter egg-dying project (it turns out vinegar and marble don’t mix).